Reno Police Department's New Virtual Police Officer
Jennifer Burton Channel 2 News
The Reno Police Department has a new officer, but she's not your ordinary crime fighter. The department's new virtual police officer has been on the force for about a week and she's already helping to make a difference in the community.
So why are Reno Police going high-tech to fight crime? The answer is that a lot of people are filing police reports online these days. The RPD says there were too many errors, so they decided to give their customers some help. They rolled out a custom-made avatar, to help guide people through the department's website and to help them file reports online.
This is what you'll hear when you log on the RPD website: "Welcome to the Reno Police Department. I'm your virtual officer. Can I help you submit an online report?"
She's pleasant, she's always on duty and she's more than happy to help. Lt. Mohammad Rafaqat says the goal is to improve customer service for citizens using the department's website.
"We want to make it an interactive experience," Rafaqat says. "We want to make it a positive experience. We want to make the online reporting process easy."
With thousands of reports filed each month, the police department found itself spending valuable resources managing lower priority reports, for example, minor crimes and reports filed for insurance purposes. Online reports also had lots of errors. That's why the department decided to upgrade its technology, and now RPD is leading the pack.
"We've done some modifications," says Rafaqat. "We've added some features to eliminate those errors; introduced this virtual officer to help our citizens navigate through our website -- take them to different places, walk them through the online reporting process."
Online reporting lets citizens file reports from home, instead of having to go to the police station or wait for an officer. The virtual officer doesn't have a name --- yet. She's only been online for about a week. But Reno police believe the perky public servant will be popular with citizens and help improve customer service.
If she's not your type, that's okay too. Lt. Rafaqat says you can opt-out of the virtual experience.
"There's an option available that if they don't like our virtual officer, they can simply put her in a corner, park her away and continue on their business as they normally do," he says.
The Reno Police Department says it's one of only a handful of police departments in the country to use the virtual officer technology. A Spanish-speaking version is in the works and should be online next month.
Saturday, May 25 2013 2:16 AM EDT2013-05-25 06:16:04 GMT
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